Injuries at Work
CONTRIBUTES TO EYE INJURIES AT WORK?
Not wearing eye protection. BLS reports that
nearly three out of every five workers injured
were not wearing eye protection at the time
of the accident.
Wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for
the job. About 40 of the injured workers were
wearing some form of eye protection when the
accident occurred. These workers were most likely
to be wearing eyeglasses with no side shields,
though injuries among employees wearing full-cup
or flat-fold side shields occurred, as well.
WHAT CAUSES EYE INJURIES?
Flying particles. BLS found that almost 70%
of the accidents studied resulted from flying
or falling objects or sparks striking the eye.
Injured workers estimated that nearly three-fifths
of the objects were smaller than a pin head.
Most of the particles were said to be traveling
faster than a hand-thrown object when the accident
Contact with chemicals caused one-fifth of the
injuries. Other accidents were caused by objects
swinging from a fixed or attached position,
like tree limbs, ropes, chains, or tools which
were pulled into the eye while the worker was
WHERE DO ACCIDENTS OCCUR MOST OFTEN?
Craft work; industrial equipment operation.
Potential eye hazards can be found in nearly
every industry, but BLS reported that more than
40% of injuries studied occurred among craft
workers, like mechanics, repairers, carpenters,
and plumbers. Over a third of the injured workers
were operatives, such as assemblers, sanders,
and grinding machine operators. Laborers suffered
about one-fifth of the eye injuries. Almost
half the injured workers were employed in manufacturing;
slightly more than 20% were in construction.
HOW CAN EYE INJURIES BE PREVENTED?
Always wear effective eye protection. OSHA standards
require that employers provide workers with
suitable eye protection. To be effective, the
eyewear must be of the appropriate type for
the hazard encountered and properly fitted.
For example, the BLS survey showed that 94%
of the injuries to workers wearing eye protection
resulted from objects or chemicals going around
or under the protector. Eye protective devices
should allow for air to circulate between the
eye and the lens. Only 13 workers injured while
wearing eye protection reported breakage.
Nearly one-fifth of the injured workers with
eye protection wore face shields or welding
helmets. However, only six percent of the workers
injured while wearing eye protection wore goggles,
which generally offer better protection for
the eyes. Best protection is afforded when goggles
are worn with face shields.
Better training and education. BLS reported
that most workers were hurt while doing their
regular jobs. Workers injured while not wearing
protective eyewear most often said they believed
it was not required by the situation. Even though
the vast majority of employers furnished eye
protection at no cost to employees, about 40%
of the workers received no eye safety training
on where and what kind of eyewear should be
Eye protection devices must be properly maintained.
Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause
glare and may contribute to accidents.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
The OSHA website or your nearest OSHA area office.
Safety and health experts are available to explain
mandatory requirements for effective eye protection
and answer questions. They can also refer you
to an on-site consultation service available
in nearly every state through which you can
get free, penalty-free advice for eliminating
possible eye hazards, designing a training program,
or other safety and health matters.
o Don't know where the nearest federal or state
office is? Call an OSHA Regional Office at the
U.S. Department of Labor in Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas
City, Denver, San Francisco, or Seattle.
The National Society to Prevent Blindness. This
voluntary health organization is dedicated to
preserving sight and has developed excellent
information and training materials for preventing
eye injuries at work. Its 26 affiliates nationwide
may also provide consultation in developing
effective eye safety programs. For more information
and a publications catalog, write the National
Society to Prevent Blindness, 79 Madison Ave.,
New York, NY 10016-7896.
EYE PROTECTION WORKS!
BLS reported that more than 50% of workers injured
while wearing eye protection thought the eyewear
had minimized their injuries. But nearly half
the workers also felt that another type of protection
could have better prevented or reduced the injuries
It is estimated that 90% of eye injuries can
be prevented through the use of proper protective
eyewear. That is our goal and, by working together,
OSHA, employers, workers, and health organizations
can make it happen.
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting
U.S. Department of Labor programs. It is intended
as a general description only and does not carry
the force of legal opinion. This information
will be made available to sensory impaired individuals
upon request. Voice phone: (202) 523-8151. TDD
message referral phone: 1-800-326-2577.
Department of Labor